Saturday, September 17, 2022

Martha Anne Toll's "Three Muses"

Martha Anne Toll writes fiction, essays, and book reviews, and reads anything that’s not nailed down. Her debut novel, Three Muses, won the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction. Toll brings a long career in social justice to her work covering BIPOC and women writers. She is a book reviewer and author interviewer at NPR Books, the Washington Post, Pointe Magazine, The Millions, and elsewhere. She also publishes short fiction and essays in a wide variety of outlets. Toll has recently joined the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Three Muses:
What a concept. I am in the book writing business, not the film business so while I love this prompt, it’s hard for me to answer. But I’m happy to try!

I’d be thrilled if Three Muses were made into a movie. Given that many of the pivotal scenes take place in a ballet studio and on the stage, I think it is especially cinematic.

My biggest request would be for the protagonist to be played by a real, professional ballerina, so that she, not a stunt double, can do the dancing. My first choice would be Isabella Boylston, who is a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Boylston is a dancer of extraordinary grace and precision – two skills that do not often go together. She is a joy to watch on stage, and I’d be thrilled for her art to reach a wider audience.

As for John, the male protagonist, my first choice would be a young Mark Rylance (John doesn’t appear past his early thirties in this book). John arrives as a refugee in New York at age fifteen, having lost his entire family—immediate and extended—to extermination by the Nazis. John survives the Holocaust by singing for the kommandant of a concentration camp. In other words, John is deeply traumatized, at a level from which is not possible to recover fully. Rylance has an uncanny ability to express deep emotion while both speaking and through body language, which would be perfect for this role. And yes, I would definitely settle for Gregory Peck if he were around and willing!

As for the role of Boris Yanakov, Katya’s abusive and too-enthralling choreographer, I think Stanley Tucci would do it really well, so I’d love to ask him.
Visit Martha Anne Toll's website.

--Marshal Zeringue